We can all enjoy a good beer or glass of wine while traveling. Sometimes even a couple. So let’s clarify some of the laws and habits of alcohol in Sweden.
The drinking habits in Sweden
Let’s start with their habits. Usually, these are even more important than the local laws. I recommend always following the law but also respecting the habits of the locals. This way, you won’t stand out too much and can enjoy your drink in peace (with the locals).
- Swedes don’t drink during the week. So if you are having a drink at a restaurant or bar on a Wednesday night, you might get stares, or worse, side-eyed!
- That being said, they go all out on the weekends in Sweden. Friday and Saturday nights are intense, and you will see drunk people in front of pubs.
- Although there is an age restriction, bars and clubs are free to set age restrictions even higher.
- If you are invited over to someone to have dinner, you must bring your own bottle. Don’t forget this!
- Don’t offer a ride to someone if you even had one drink. They will think you don’t take their safety seriously.
The actual alcohol law in Sweden
You know the habits by now, but what about the law? This one can cost you more than just a side-eye. You don’t want to end up in jail during your trip, do you?
- You have to be over 18 to drink in a restaurant
- Bars and nightclubs can push up that age limit, starting at 20
- You must be over 20 to buy in a Systembolaget (liquor store).
- You have to bring an ID with you when buying alcohol.
- It’s illegal in some places to drink publicly.
- If you are caught driving drunk, you lose your driver’s license.
Where to buy alcohol in Sweden?
Can you buy alcohol in regular Swedish supermarkets?
For alcohol, there are three options. The first one is just in a regular shop. The catch is they are only allowed to sell drinks with less than 3,5% abv. So you will find light beers and ciders but no liquors or wines.
Can you buy alcohol in Swedish bars and restaurants?
At bars, you can get drinks starting at the age of 18. However, some bars and clubs have a higher age restriction. So check yourself before you wreck yourself.
In bars and restaurants, you can get alcohol for the entire time they are open. The only thing you are not allowed to do is take the alcohol outside or home.
Where to buy more potent alcohol in Sweden?
If you want a bottle of wine for your Netflix night, you must go to the government-owned Systembolaget. There are many things to keep in mind when visiting one, though.
- There are no limitations to how much you can buy (except your bank account)
- The drinks are not cooled. This is to keep all drinks equal (and keep you from cracking a cold one on the streets immediately after leaving the store).
- They have no discounts or special offers, ever.
- They try to sell alcohol-free drinks too. So ‘Alkoholfri’ means alcohol-free, not free alcohol.
- They don’t sell to you if you are already drunk.
- They don’t sell to you if you look underage and don’t have an ID.
- They don’t sell if they think you pass the drinks to underage kids.
- You will have to pay for the plastic bag at the register.
Have a good look at their openings hours too:
- Monday to Friday, open from 10 am to 6 pm
- Saturday: 10 am to 1 pm
- Sundays and holidays are closed.
These hours are very strict and often the stores have a long queue on Saturdays and Fridays. Make sure to go early because not being able to pay before closing means no drinks.
The alcohol prizes in Sweden
The prices for alcohol in Sweden are a fair bit higher than in most other countries. So keep that in mind when making up your budget. It’s impossible to write down all the prizes for you here. And with a world and economy in motion, those numbers wouldn’t stay relevant for long anyway.
But I did research some averages in the shops to give you an idea:
- A bottle of vodka – SEK 239
- A bottle of Baileys – SEK 201
- Bottle of whiskey – SEK 240
- Bottle of rum – SEK 235
- Bottle of gin – SEK 225
- A bottle of wine – SEK 90
- A 33cl can of pilsner beer – SEK 11,9
- Half a liter of local beer – SEK 17
- 33 cl can of imported beer – SEK 19
In bars and restaurants, those prices are even higher.
Disclaimer: There is none; I just wanted to write this content for you. <3
One thought on “Everything you need to know about buying alcohol in Sweden: prices, customs, and laws”